The fastest-growing online scam is the Nigerian money offer, which increased by 900 percent from 2000 to 2001. The scamsters send you an email telling you all about their supposed hardships, their ties to influential royals, and the need for a trustworthy person like you to help them out by scoring them a few hundred thousand, which of course will be returned.

While Nigerian money offers are the fastest-growing online scam, they are by no means the biggest. Online auctions are responsible for a staggering 70 percent of all Internet fraud, with people offering goods at online auction sites, waiting to be paid, then never delivering the promised merchandise.

1. Online Auctions: items that were misrepresented or never received after being sold to the highest bidder in a virtual auction

2. General Merchandise: anything sold on a Web site (not an auction, and not computer software or hardware) that was misrepresented or never received

3. Nigerian Money Offers: “aid” requests from someone claiming to need help to transfer a fortune from Africa

4. Computer Equipment/Software: equipment (not sold on an auction) that was either never received or misrepresented

5. Internet Access Services: charges from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that were never ordered and/or received

6. Information/Adult Services: charges to credit cards or phone bills for services never provided or misrepresented as free

7. Work at Home Schemes: kits sold with false promises of profits

8. Advance Fee Loans: empty promises of loans requiring payment of application and other fees in advance

9. Credit Card Offers: phony promises of credit cards requiring upfront payment of application and other fees

10. Business Opportunities/Franchises: exaggerated claims of potential profits through investments in prepackaged businesses or franchises.